Shares of the Golden Arch's recently got nailed after prominent restaurant analyst David Palmer at RBC Capital Markets said consumer interest in the chain's new $1, $2, $3 value menu has been modest. The analyst slashed his price target on McDonald's stock to $170 from $190 and dropped his U.S. same-store sales estimate to an increase of 1% from 3.5%.
Those short McDonald's have made a killing this year: $172.6 million in mark-to-market profits, according to S3 Analytics. The second most profitable short position in the restaurant space belongs to the under-performing Chipotle (CMG - Get Report) , which has racked up $109 million in paper profits for the shorts.
The market may be overreacting on Mickey D's outlook for this year though. Credit Suisse serves up two reasons why investors may want to nibble on the stock.
Same-Store Sales Outlook Still Looks Solid
Wall Street has marked down its full year same-store sales estimates on McDonald's to an increase of 3.5%, compared to 4% to 5% previously. In turn, that has pressured the stock and fanned the flames of McDonald's sales growth coming in even slower.
An outright decline in McDonald's sales this year, which the market may be pricing in now, appears unlikely.
"We find it difficult to see McDonald's U.S. same-store sales falling below 2% this year given the macroeconomic backdrop and since menu pricing will likely be up 2% for the year," Credit Suisse analyst Jason West writes.
Don't Read Too Much Into First Quarter Trends
Says West, "Fast food sales are typically volatile this time of year given severe weather and holiday shifts. Value messaging is also particularly intense in the post-holiday period. As such, we are hesitant to read too much into first quarter trends is it relates to the full year outlook."
West believes a barrage of value offers from pizza chains such as Domino's Pizza (DPZ - Get Report) to burger rivals like Wendy's (WEN - Get Report) will be sustained for the full year. Hence, competitive pressures should ease for McDonald's.
Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor talks to TheStreet about its new delivery service. Watch below.